Thursday, 27 May 2010

Rights of Man, Billy Budd and an 1843 Albion press

I've printed a new typographical poster 'Rights o' Man' (Budd's merchant ship, named after Tom Paine's 1791-2 seminal work) before he was pressed into HMS Indomitable (a name which did not appear in Herman Melville's original story). to mark the terrific new production of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd at Glyndebourne. I printed this poster before I attended the dress rehearsal, and, even so, wouldn't want to change it much. But my posters have a habit of transmuting within short periods of time! So within an edition of, say, 50 posters there could actually be several different printing states. The one shown above does not have the red stars by Captain Vere's name ('Starry Vere') which appear in a slightly later state.

I've just taken delivery of a small 1843 Albion press (see photo above), constructed in the sixth year of Queen Victoria's reign, which I will be able to use for printing broadsides, woodblocks and other relief work. I haven't measured the platen yet, but it can print foolscap (bigger than A4). This is now installed on a stout table in the Press at 151 High Street, Lewes, along with the big common press (which, of course, sits on the floor).

Just got back from Toronto, where I visited the very friendly and interesting Coach House Press (two Heidelbergs), and also Don Black's amazing letterpress warehouse. There's an interesting exhibition relating to the Coach House Press and its work since 1970 in the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto. This is a wonderful gallery and, quite apart from lots of great art (including Rembrandt etchings at present), there's a fine collection of model ships in the basement. If you're interested in naval architecture (Billly Budd, Wooden Walls, Hearts of Oak, etc.) this is well worth a long look.

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